- Discover Indonesia Online

You are currently in > Just a blog about Indonesia > Rebel split overshadows elections in Aceh

Rebel split overshadows elections in Aceh BANDA ACEH - Muhammad Nasir has more than earned the right to cast a vote in the upcoming historic elections in Indonesia's strife-torn Aceh province. Only 18 months ago, the 39-year-old was languishing in jail, a political prisoner from the armed Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which had waged a guerrilla war against the Indonesian government since 1976.

But the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami tore open the province both physically and politically, leading to a peace settlement less than eight months later and clearing the way for first-ever direct elections on December 11, in which former rebels will stand as independent candidates for governor, district chiefs and mayors.

The only problem for loyal foot soldiers like Nasir is deciding whom to vote for. GAM is in the midst of a painful transition from guerrilla force to political organisation, and a nasty rift opened last summer between the movement's old guard civilian leadership based in Sweden and younger military commanders who fought the Indonesian army for years.

The GAM civilian leadership has endorsed Acehnese intellectual Humam Hamid and ex-rebel Hasbi Abdullah for governor and vice governor, while former guerrilla commanders are backing a rival ticket of Irwandi Yusuf and Muhammed Nazar. Publicly, the movement claims it is neutral, but the infighting has sown confusion among GAM's supporters and could jeopardise its chances of winning the various seats up for grabs.

"The reaction against autocratic decision-making is understandable but it raises the question whether GAM will be able to hold together as a political block," according to an analysis by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank. Nasir, who now runs a modest shop making traditional peci hats, hasn't decided which GAM ticket to support, but he definitely will not vote for the other candidates: pro-Jakarta politicians and a retired army general whom he dismisses as his enemies and tormentors.

"We were treated worse than animals in jail," Nasir told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "Even the cats didn't want to eat the fish they gave us." Indeed, the Aceh conflict is a bloody stain on Indonesia. As many as 20,000 people, mostly civilians, died and thousands more were raped or tortured by Indonesian army soldiers. GAM did not behave much better, carrying out executions, attacks on Javanese migrants, and terrorising and extorting money from civilians caught in the middle.

A psychological evaluation in three war-torn districts compared the conflict's intensity to that of Bosnia and Afghanistan and found that 65 percent of civilians ranked high on depression symptoms. Thousands of former guerrilla fighters are being reintegrated into their villages but the unemployment rates hover at around 75 percent, according to aid workers.

Simultaneously, Aceh is recovering from the tsunami, which killed 177,000 people, washed away nearly half of the capital Banda Aceh, and destroyed hundreds of villages. Aceh lies on the northern tip of Sumatra, some 2,000 kilometres northwest of Jakarta, and was the first place to be hit by the earthquake-triggered waves.

In many ways, the peace process, reconstruction and elections are intertwined. The several billion dollars in post-tsunami aid has enabled the peace process to gain better traction than it would have otherwise, and the presence of foreign aid workers has forced both GAM and the Indonesian military to be on their best behaviour.

There are high hopes that Monday's elections will further cement the rebels' reintegration into Acehnese society, which in turn will allow tsunami reconstruction to continue without the threat of violence or resumed warfare. "They are linked - If one fails, the others will be negatively affected," said Mark Knight, who manages a reintegration program in Aceh for the International Organisation for Migration.

The wild card is what happens if GAM-backed candidates don't win the governor's office or most of the 19 district-chief contests. Some analysts are speculating that former Aceh governor Azwar Abubakar, a veteran politician and wealthy businessman, or politician Malik Raden of Golkar, the ruling party in Jakarta, could win the race.

But with the eight gubernatorial candidates each needing at least 25 percent of the vote to win outright, a run-off poll between the top two finishers early next year appears more likely. The absence of campaign violence suggests both sides trust the process thus far and believe the vote will be free and fair.

Ultimately, GAM may rue its internal rifts if a candidate from the old political establishment wins, and the ex-rebels will be forced to look ahead to the next elections in 2009 after they have formed an official political party. "There will be a lot of soul searching going on," said Marcus Mietzner, a senior visiting fellow at The Indonesian Institute, a Jakarta-based think tank.

Related blog entries (category 'Elections') Related blog entries (category 'Elections'):
03 December 2006 · Indonesia eyes path for ex-Aceh rebels to form political party
25 November 2006 · Landmark election campaign begins in Aceh
08 November 2006 · Minister to inspect preparations for Aceh regional chief elections
06 November 2006 · General, rebel among candidates in Aceh
22 August 2006 · Indonesia to hold Aceh elections December 11

Posted in Elections @ 09 December 2006 03:54 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

There are no reactions on this blog entry yet. Be the first one to give a reaction here!

Log in to write a reaction

You are not logged in to the website. You have to be logged in to write a reaction on this blog entry.

· If you already have an account, please login.
· If you have lost your password, please retrieve it.
· If you don't have an account yet, you can create one.

Add this blog entry to your email, your own blog, MySpace, Facebook, or whatsoever via AddThis:
Bookmark and Share

e-mail updates for this blog article

Login if you want to receive emails for reactions on this blog entry. You will receive an update as soon as a reaction on this blog entry is posted.

Your website for tickets in Indonesia!
Looking for e-tickets for flights in Indonesia? Here's your solution! Order your e-tickets at
· 2015, 28 entries
· 2014, 591 entries
· 2013, 750 entries
· 2012, 1061 entries
· 2011, 792 entries
· 2010, 644 entries
· 2009, 916 entries
· 2008, 504 entries
· 2007, 725 entries
· 2006, 1014 entries
· 2005, 723 entries
· 2004, 558 entries
· 2003, 525 entries
· 2002, 375 entries
· 2001, 162 entries
· gigolo
· jakarta
· blogger
Automatically generated every hour
· General (1205 entries)
· Economy (643 entries)
· Politics (574 entries)
· Accidents (561 entries)
· Terrorism (541 entries)
· Earthquake (539 entries)
· Volcanoes (387 entries)
· Crime (357 entries)
· Corruption (349 entries)
· Flooding (278 entries)
· Elections (276 entries)
· Travel (268 entries)
· Bird Flu (254 entries)
· Religion (242 entries)
· Tourism (239 entries)
· Oddly enough ... (219 entries)
· Violence (198 entries)
· Drugs (196 entries)
· Health (192 entries)
· Aceh conflict (191 entries)
· Environment (185 entries)
· Weather (171 entries)
· Military (168 entries)
· Protests (157 entries)
· Culture (106 entries)
· Garuda Indonesia (91 entries)
· C. Sulawesi conflict (86 entries)
· Human rights (82 entries)
· Forest fires (78 entries)
· Sidoarjo mudflow (71 entries)
· Power supply (64 entries)
· Ramadan (63 entries)
· PT Freeport (55 entries)
· Picture guess (48 entries)
· Maluku conflict (47 entries)
· History (37 entries)
· Dengue Fever (37 entries)
· Infrastructure (36 entries)
· Polio (35 entries)
· Mexican flu (35 entries)
· Website (25 entries)
· Media (22 entries)
· Nuclear power (21 entries)
· Sports (20 entries)
· Sexy (16 entries)
· SARS (15 entries)
· Nightlife (10 entries)
· Others (5 entries)
· Lippo Cikarang (5 entries)
· Close smallest categories
EUR-IDR: 16,590 · 16,620  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 18:12 CET
JPY-IDR: 126.83 · 126.95  The Rupiah rate improved since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 21:58 CET
MYR-IDR: 3,545 · 3,549  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 15 May 2018 08:42 CET
SGD-IDR: 10,479 · 10,501  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 07 May 2018 07:48 CET
THB-IDR: 439.14 · 439.41  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 16 May 2018 09:18 CET
USD-IDR: 14,097 · 14,157  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 00:46 CET
Go to 'exchange rates' 
·  At 03 March 2021 07:43 hotwin reacted on Three more bodies of AirAsia victims to Surabaya hospital
·  At 10 November 2020 16:59 AdvocaatHulp reacted on Three more bodies of AirAsia victims to Surabaya hospital
·  At 14 July 2020 08:32 newnight reacted on Three more bodies of AirAsia victims to Surabaya hospital
·  At 20 September 2018 06:54 erik12 reacted on Fuel prices lowered, again
·  At 19 October 2015 17:17 imambudianto5 reacted on Bank Indonesia maintains benchmark interest rate at 7.75%
·  At 04 March 2015 19:18 merdekaSah reacted on Alleged terrorists shot dead three villagers in Poso
·  At 04 March 2015 13:11 Yogya-Bali reacted on Alleged terrorists shot dead three villagers in Poso
·  At 26 February 2015 13:02 Irena reacted on Sexy, a young woman with candy
·  At 08 May 2014 09:51 jstar reacted on No alcohol should be sold in warung
·  At 01 May 2014 10:07 jstar reacted on Indonesia to be among the top 10 peacekeeping contributors
·  At 27 March 2014 05:50 harlys reacted on PPP leader voices concern over Islamic parties' future
·  At 10 March 2014 06:11 Yogya-Bali reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 09 March 2014 00:11 Yerun reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 08 March 2014 20:33 nicknick reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 18 February 2014 04:17 Yerun reacted on Ash from Mount Kelud eruption spreads over all of Java
·  At 16 February 2014 05:41 Amed East Bali reacted on Ash from Mount Kelud eruption spreads over all of Java
·  At 14 February 2014 22:27 Anne Mieke reacted on Asylum seekers in Medan wish to be sent to Australia
·  At 14 February 2014 22:22 beritaislam reacted on Asylum seekers in Medan wish to be sent to Australia
·  At 16 January 2014 15:37 Anne Mieke reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 15:21 Yerun reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
Go to 'forum topics' 

Created by · feedback & contact · © 2000-2021
Other websites by · · ·

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional 154,635,366 pageviews Discover Indonesia Online at